Manda's Musings


This morning I visited, and delivered a music lesson at, a most remarkable school – The Park School in Brookline. I was observed by six teacher/administrator folks; interviewed with them, and got to witness a momentary snippet of a school culture striving to be inclusive, relational and innovative. The position I’d be filling, if chosen, is temporary – but I pray the impression I was left with is not.

I felt reintroduced to the aspects of teaching that most attract me – supported for creativity; sharing the experience with children without the pressure of statistical evaluation; coming up with lessons that (hopefully) leave one curious.

I recognize privilege affords us an easier ability to give energies, focused attention, and care to helping shape a learning (and living) environment like the one they are building at The Park School. That being so, I so feel particularly privileged to have logged on this morning’s Park School experience into my fibers – no matter the outcome of hiring.


My iPhone tried to perform a coup this morning. 

I am slow to welcome technological wizardry that makes living easier and less ‘hands on’. Hence, even though GPS is available on my iPhone, I still largely depend on my own inner GPS to follow get my utterly lost until I find a compassionate soul willing to redirect me.

This morning I turned right down the road that ultimately leads to Route 9, which leads to the Mass Pike. Shortly after turning, my Australian voiced iPhone guide says, “Continue on to the Massachusetts Pike access road.” I didn’t fully trust my ears. Well ingrained is my regular route to the Mass Pike from there and I truly did not believe my iPhone would tell me to go on the road on which only the State Police are authorized to travel. I continued on. At the T intersection, where I’m to go left under the Mass Pike bridge, my Australian voiced guide says, “Continue on to the Massachusetts Turnpike access road.”

“NO!” I shouted back, “I won’t! What is this? I will not let you get me arrested!”

No response. Coup averted.


Sometimes my whole being feels infused by the absurdity of prejudice. I am not prejudicial-thought-free. I am grateful for awareness and acceptance of its falsity and choose to counteract it with truth. The other day an inner voice burst out translating:

Immigrants are taking our jobs!”: “Those people who have sacrificed familiarity, friends and family, to come here, from a country where they struggled and suffered financially, are willing to do necessary work that most people in this country are unwilling to do, for pay and benefits far below standards our government deems suitable!” 

“I don’t like them because they’re [a different race]!”: “I don’t like those human beings, who share equal biological potential for achievement, intelligence, action and camaraderie as me, because less than 0.1% of their DNA is different than mine! I mean, tell me you’d keep an open mind and take the opportunity to get to know another whose biological make-up is only 99.9% the same as yours!”

“She’s so butch. He’s a fag.”: She’s a person drawn toward activities and discourse of vigor, challenge, daring and surety, due to inborn leanings. He’s a person drawn toward activities and discourse of aesthetics, domestic living, relations, and sensitivity, due to inborn leanings.”

 People traits – not traitors.


I think of all we’ve lost through Limitation. Time for a collective ‘dump core.’ Dump all ‘enemy’ ‘other’ thoughts.

Bow to Wonder.

Wonder in our Shade gradations.
Wonder in our Belief gradations.
Wonder in our Behavior gradations.
Wonder in our Knowledge gradations.
Wonder in our Personality gradations.
Wonder in our Physique gradations
Wonder – and wander – through our gradations of Beauty.



When Trump was elected in 2016 I thought, “Maybe he has a lesson to learn.” It was the only way I could fathom him being elected.

Maybe now he’s learning it.

I hope so.


‘Back to School Night’ I sat in Sam’s English teacher’s room hearing of all the literary works they’d be delving into this school year, Kafka’s ‘Transformation’ being the first. 

The other morning I asked Sam how Kafka was going –

“Good,” he said, “Because we’re done.” 

“I’ve never read Kafka.”



I read ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ with particular devoted ferocity. Receiving the book a week or so before I was able to read it, being fully ensconced in Book 5 of a series, I was finally sat down to it. The beauty of the writer’s words immediately overcame my inner tsunami toward Book 6.

Before setting out on my read, in my initial exuberance for Vuong’s writing, I thought I’d take Sam’s English teacher up on his request for parental book suggestions, by suggesting he consider introducing Sam’s class to the book. Glad I waited till I read it.

Vuong quite aptly – spiritually, emotionally and physically – relays his first sexual love experience with a boy. He was fourteen years old, and for that, I actually think it an appropriate, realistic read for – those teens – and elders – able to accept it.

I pray for the day we, as a society, welcome all aspects of human living, no matter the manner individuals are drawn toward and choose [barring ones harmful to self and other] – but we’re not there yet.


It’s comfortably affirming, reading the work of writers able to set to print, moments experienced universally by individuals in like circumstances. Diana Gabaldon is one of those.

On page 86 of the sixth book of her ‘Outlander’ series, I read this married moment between Brianna and Roger. Brianna’s strong interest in conjuring modernizations (being originally from the 1900s) for her 1770s living, led to her obtaining a bottle of phosphorus, for making matches. Her husband, also from the 1900s, feels concerned keeping liquid phosphorus in their cabin, due to the rapacious curiosity of their three year old:

Roger picked up the jar for safekeeping, holding it as though it might go off in his hands. He wanted to ask whether she were insane, but had been married long enough to know the price of injudicious rhetorical questions.


I am painting our house. Being home during the week, I’m graced with the space to do so. Peter joins me on the weekend. Sam used to, a bit begrudgingly, until he got a job.

I love the painting. 

The scraping, caulking, sanding and washing have their own unique virtues and challenges, of course – but I love the painting. 

I love the order and rhythm: trim first, house body second; top to bottom; lay down edge bead; fill the between; let sit; second coat.

It’s the second coat that really gets me. Grounds me. I love the way we paint over all underneath blemishes, disparate woodscapes, nooks, crannies, cracks and patches, melding them together into one seeming seamless, unified whole.

Hey! Can we paint over our life that way?

Would we want to?


Another startling artist – floored by another innovative engaged and engaging artist’s work last Sunday night on 60 Minutes: Mark Bradford.

As a young boy Bradford took refuge in his mother’s hair salon, eventually styling hair himself. I got the impression he came to art without intentionally knowing he was heading that way.What outrightly struck me was his media choice and passion for meaningful, vibrant and immediate works. His matter-of-factness and industrial devotion to supporting life, his community and dogged pursuit of upholding meaning. Especially sparked by his cycloramic civil war re-working: Pickett’s Charge.

From his personal TV tellings, I picture a young boy taking refuge in Mom’s hair salon, becoming art-filled man buying salon and adjacent buildings, turning healer, unifying and transforming those spaces into a community artfulness whole. 

Life really can be all about transformation. 

Here’s 60 Minutes’ interview: